Fat Wreck Chords, the record label started by NOFX frontman/bassist “Fat Mike” Burkett is celebrating its 30th anniversary. That’s three decades of defining the sound of West Coast punk and fighting the power. Fat Wreck has amassed a catalog of recordings by fledgling upstarts, stone cold icons and a couple of crucial compilations, as well. We were too busy to bake Mike a cake (or some really special brownies). Instead, we asked him to tell us his picks for the 30 most important records in the Fat Wreck discography.
We’re smart enough not to suggest any parameters to Fat Mike. He set all the ground rules for this particular exercise. For instance, he insisted none of his selections be numbered. Does it matter? What would the difference be between #20 and #17? Less cowbell? Mike’s explanation is both pragmatic and completely understandable.
Not to be hyperbolic, but this APTV clip is truly one of our favorite moments. Even if you haven’t heard half of these bands, Fat Mike always has an amazing story to go with each of them. There was that one bunch from Florida who went out on tour with NOFX for a couple days thinking it would be a breeze. Until Mike told them sleeping on tour was prohibited. His stories aren’t always laugh riots, either. Mike shares some solemn thoughts about people who are no longer with us. He’s also his own worse critic, discussing his dark creative moments and lamenting how one of the bands he’s in are “totally dysfunctional.”
At other points, Fat Mike serves a little tea, damns things with faint praise and looks quite fetching in his new dress. Fat Wreck Chords came to being in a world where seven-inches with non-lp tracks were the shit and compact discs were a hot commodity. Yet Mike is still out there making music, making waves and making us feel like punk is still us vs. them. When so many bands are breaking up and labels are folding, Fat Wreck’s commitment to punk comes off as positively eternal.